As the old saying goes, ‘you have to take the bull by its horns’, and New Caledonia native Dimitri Pelo has done just that – with the 27-year old seizing the opportunity he was given to play for the Raiders, and performing well for the club on debut.
Pelo, who played for Catalans in the English Super League, before moving to French rugby union, decided to try his hand at the NRL in mid 2011, and he was given the chance to trial with the Canberra Raiders and eventually play in the NRL -a childhood dream of his.
The dream soon became a reality, when Pelo, along with fellow debutant and good friend Edrick Lee, making their first-grade debuts for the club.
â€œEveryone kept asking us if we were alright before the game, which didnâ€™t really help the nerves,â€ laughed Pelo.
â€œI still got butterflies on the night even though I have played a fair few games in the Super League. I was quite comfortable and I was just making sure Eddie was in the same situation as me. I was just trying to make his job easier. For his age to make his debut in the NRL, heâ€™d be over the moon.â€
Moving over is always difficult, and for Pelo, not knowing anyone was different – but since he arrived, Pelo is fitting into the playing group, and has been welcomed by players and coaching staff alike.
â€œThe rapport with the squad has always been good. When I first came here everyone greeted me really nicely and the boys took me out for lunch and things like that and itâ€™s continued ever since.â€
â€œEverything has paid off now. Iâ€™m grateful that I put in all the hard yards in the off-season and showed Dave [Furner] what I can do. Iâ€™ve got the chance and now I have to take it and make the most of it.
â€œRugby union wasnâ€™t for me and itâ€™s great to be back in rugby league. Itâ€™s good to get back to my roots. Iâ€™m loving every minute of it.â€
Whilst playing first-grade was a good achievement for Pelo, he is keen to go one step further – and better his performance from his debut game.
â€œIâ€™m going to feel more comfortable the second time around as there wonâ€™t be as much stress as in the first one. The combinations will be better as well as Iâ€™ll be more accustomed to how the other players are playing around me. Hopefully we can go one better this week and get the win.â€
â€œI would love to make Canberra my home. Iâ€™m not a big fan of moving around too much. Iâ€™ve just moved back from the Super League and I just want to get a base, if I could make it here then itâ€™d be great. I need to make sure that my performances warrant a contract extension.â€
Waiting was something Pelo had to do a lot of before playing first-grade, but despite not making his debut until he was 27, Pelo said that never giving up is the key.
â€œIf the dream and the passion are still there donâ€™t give it up. Have a really good go at it until your dreams actually become true.â€
â€œMy story and Andrew Everinghamâ€™s shows you what can happen when you donâ€™t give up. He had a passion and he just kept plugging away even though he had to work on the side. He loved it so much that he kept doing it and itâ€™s really paid off for him now.â€